Cuz it looks like it's headed right off the rails.
Strike Deadline Passes; WGA To Hold Member Meeting Tonight [New York Times]
Writers have been getting screwed over on DVD sales, so now they're almost certainly going to war. And everyone is in the guild. Which means quality is gonna go down faster than Lindsay Lohan on a skater boy.
Talk shows will go into the tank first, obviously. I talked to some people who remembered the last time this happened and apparently everything went to the 9th level of hell.
Hollywood writer 'gyroball' had this well-written summary at the Something Awful forums:
Last night the collective bargaining agreement between the Writers Guild of America and the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers expired. Tonight, the WGA is holding a meeting and is expected to declare a strike. Writers have been told to pack up their stuff from their offices today and that's generally not a good sign. ... the main point of contention: residual payments issued to writers for online downloads of television shows.
The background is this: when the last CBA was written up between the WGA and AMPTP, home video was a completely different beast. Very few people bought VHS tapes, VHS tapes were expensive to manufacture, and the very concept of people buying TV shows on home video was ridiculous because a single season of Dallas would take up an entire shelf. Because of these three factors, writers recieved very little in the way of compensation for home video sales and, at the time, it made sense.
Then DVDs came along. DVDs became ubiquitous, they were cheap to manufacture, and now everyone buys their favorite shows on TV. Unfortunately, the way the definition of home video was written into the CBA, DVDs got lumped in with VHS tapes and it sucked for writers. Now instead of maybe a few hundred people buying some one time release of season 1 of Twin Peaks on a wall of VHS tapes for $200, everyone and their brother can buy the entire series for $70 on amazon.com and have it at their door in a nice small package the next day. And they do. And of all these millions of DVD box set sales, writers get very little revenue despite the fact that they fucking wrote it.
But that's not what this is about. This is about the studios wanting to extend the royalty formula for VHS and DVD to internet downloads in a new CBA. "Fine!" you might say. "That makes sense! It's home video!" But the writers don't want to make the same mistake twice. Today, digital downloads are only a small portion of the revenue of a TV show. What about in 10 years? With DVRs threatening to make commercials obsolete and people becoming more computer savvy, the writers see it as a possibility that by the expiration of this CBA, digital downloads of a sort might be the primary source of income for TV shows.
Which would screw them over bad.
Both sides are kinda being dicks about it and not talking, so it looks like a strike is the only way to settle it. This sucks for me because as of tomorrow, my wife and I will probably be unemployed. But what about you, the viewer? How will this affect your life?
Writers will no longer be able to write. Anything. That means TV shows, movies, talk shows, anything that employs WGA members. The only thing the studios can film will be stuff that's already written.
The first to go will be the talk shows. Letterman, Leno, Conan, Daily Show, and Colbert Report (among others) which rely upon writing done the day before will quickly turn to re-runs--probably within a week. If it drags on longer, the start of midseason shows (LOST, BSG, 24) will likely be delayed and there may be hiatuses for other shows (because they've run out of written episodes). Later episodes will likely decline in quality as they are not being re-written and early drafts are being filmed.
If it drags on long enough, it may cut into February sweeps which will royally fuck the networks over and may lead to a disgusting proliferation of reality TV and imported TV. And if it goes longer than that (which is unlikely but you never know) the studios will run out of scripts to film for movies.
Yikes! Happy I don't own a TV. In any case, maybe it's time to start leafing through old seasons on OVGuide, because it sounds like the new shit is going to be rough for some time to come.